When looking for speciality coffee in Rome, it pays to get a little off beaten track. Although you can find good quality traditional espresso bars like Tazza D’Oro and the occasional gem such as Roscioli Caffè Pasticceria in the centre, there’s also great coffee to found elsewhere. Today’s Coffee Spot, the Tram Depot, is south of the historic centre, beyond the Palatine Hill and Circo Massimo, on the far side of the Aventine Hill.
The Tram Depot consists of a small kiosk where you can take your coffee at the counter, with a spacious outdoor seating area if you want to linger. During the day, the focus is very much on the coffee, from Le Piantagioni del Caffè, a roaster I had not heard of before, hailing from the Tuscan coast. There’s a single-origin on espresso and three more on pour-over through V60, Syphon and cafetiere, while there’s also loose-leaf tea.
In the evening, the Tram Depot switches to a bar, staying open until 1am each night, serving wine, spirits and cocktails, although you can also get espresso-based drinks. This is all backed up by a range of tasty cakes and pastries, plus sandwiches if you want something more substantial.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Like Thursday’s Coffee Spot, Faro, the Tram Depot is near Rome’s Aurelian Walls. However, while Faro is to the northeast, by the Porta Salaria, the Tram Depot is on Via Marmorata, near the Porta San Paolo. The Tram Depot stands on the corner of a busy intersection, just in front of a park which provides a welcome counterpoint to the speeding traffic, although it’s set far enough back from the road for it not to be a problem.
The Tram Depot consists of a small kiosk with a spacious outdoor seating area. In keeping with the name, the kiosk has been cleverly designed to look like a tram, a large, neon sign on the roof mimicking a tram’s pantograph. Meanwhile, the rear of the kiosk, which faces the seating, looks like the front of a tram, right down to the little headlight under the counter.
You can sit here on one of two bar stools to order/drink your coffee, while there’s a similar arrangement on the other side, facing the busy Via Marmorata. There’s a third window, albeit without any stools, along the left-hand side, where you can also take your coffee. The advantage of standing here or sitting at the front is your proximity to the cakes, which are displayed on multiple shelves on the front left-hand corner. You also get an excellent view of the modified La Marzocco Linea espresso machine with paddles instead of buttons on each of its two groups.
If you don’t fancy standing, then there’s a spacious outdoor seating area behind the kiosk, with a group of tables nestling under the shade/shelter of two large umbrellas, where you have the benefit of full table service. Just grab a seat and someone from the kiosk will come to take your order.
The tables are arranged in two rows running front-to-back. The first row, furthest from the park, consists of six small, round three/four person tables, with a mix of chairs and stools. This is mirrored by a second row next to the park. This is a mix of tables, with three more small, round tables, while the middle tables have a pair of two-person swing seats. The final table is square with a bench.
All except the outer tables at the front and back are sheltered under a pair of massive umbrellas, essential protection from the Roman sun, which, even in November, was strong enough to burn. The only drawback to sitting out here was that practically everyone else was smoking.
I visited twice, once in the afternoon and again in the evening. The first was a quick pit stop, my friend Amanda and I having espressos standing up at the front window of the kiosk. These were made with a single-origin Peruvian from Le Piantagioni del Caffè. This made for a good, strong, well-rounded espresso, although it was too strong for Amanda, who is not an habitual espresso drinker.
On our return that evening, we sat outside. I’d hoped to try a pour-over, where the Peruvian was joined by single-origins from Ethiopia and Tanzania, but we were caught out by the switch of focus to the bar. Instead, I had another espresso (as is the default in Rome, this was a single shot) while Amanda had an Americano, which she preferred. Meanwhile, my espresso was, if anything, even better than the one I’d had that afternoon.
We paired these with a couple of slices of pie, ricotta for Amanda and sour cherry for me. My pie was awesome, combining great pastry with some lovely fruit. Amanda’s ricotta pie was sweeter, but just as good.
|13 VIA MARMORATA • ROME • 00153 • ITALY|
|www.facebook.com/tramdepotroma||+39 06 575 4406|
|Monday||08:00 – 01:00||Roaster||Le Piantagioni (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||08:00 – 01:00||Seating||Counter, Tables (outside)|
|Wednesday||08:00 – 01:00||Food||Cakes, Sandwiches|
|Thursday||08:00 – 01:00||Service||Counter/Table|
|Friday||08:00 – 01:00||Cards||Amex, Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||09:00 – 01:00||Wifi||N/A|
|Sunday||09:00 – 01:00||Power||N/A|
|Chain||No||Visits||11th November 2018|
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